Lowes Foods Launches Local Produce Program

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — North Carolina shoppers now have a new opportunity to buy local fruits and vegetables. Lowes Foods initiated its Locally Grown Club earlier this month, featuring produce from North Carolina farmers.

Available at over 60 Lowes locations, shoppers can purchase a produce subscription for $175 for seven weeks running from June 18 to Sept. 17; $75 for three weeks; or $30 for a trial week.

Paying for the subscription in advance, shoppers pick up a box with at least 12½ pounds of produce supplied by local farms each week. The box will include six to 10 different kinds of fruits or vegetables. For the first drop-off on June 18, Patterson Farm provided zucchini, long green cucumbers and bell peppers, according to Doug Patterson, who runs the China Grove, N.C., farm with his brother Randall Patterson.

Later this season, Patterson Farm will also offer customers cantaloupe and several different kinds of tomatoes — roma, cherry, grape and large tomatoes. Lowes also listed yellow squash, blueberries, sweet potatoes, cabbage and peaches as items that boxes may include during the season. This is the first time Patterson Farm has participated in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, and Patterson is expecting good things to come from the Locally Grown Club.

“We're looking forward to working with Lowes on this project, and we're excited about it. And any way we can get our local food into the local stores is a win-win for all of us,” said Patterson.

Lowes is also sourcing local produce from several other local farms. Patterson said that Lowes is handling the customer orders and putting the boxes together. The Locally Grown Club can help local farms to reach more customers. “Every little bit helps. Any time you can get your name and your product out there and reach more people, any way and method, is great,” Patterson said.

In a press release, Lowes said the program will be attractive to customers who visit farmers' markets or roadside produce stands. Customers can sign up for the group through Lowes Foods to Go website: http://www.lowesfoods.com/index.cfm/onlineshopping/lfstogo [2].

Lowes joins several retailers, including Whole Foods Market, Dorothy Lane Market and Kings Super Markets, who have begun catering to customer interest in local foods by organizing or hosting CSA programs at their stores.

These relationships can be advantageous for both growers and retailers. As the local produce offered in CSA programs is limited by season, many customers supplement their shares with produce from supermarkets.

The guaranteed supply of weekly local produce can even inspire customers to cook more at home, seeking new ingredients and products for recipes. Additionally, when programs have a time commitment, customers are assured to stop by the retailer weekly, increasing the likelihood of impulse purchases.